Software for hearing/seeing impaired patrons

Braille magazine cover example

A library person on a listserve submitted this question: “We are getting ready to set up some of our computers to be more user friendly for people who are seeing/hearing repaired and I’m looking for some software suggestions.  Anything would be helpful as we just started the search today.”

We are passing on a few suggestions shared, if you are also looking at getting this software for your patrons. Do you have other suggestions for software you like?

  • Every state has some variety of Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. They should be able to point you to resources of various expenses and effectiveness.
  • the screen reading software JAWS is probably the most popular for those who cannot see, and ZoomText, which has multiple functions, has functionality for those with low vision and physical impairments (for instance there are typing assists for folks who shake due to Parkinson’s , etc).  ZoomText has a keyboard with high visibility keys that works not just with the software but is good for anyone who is seeing less well due to age.
    You may also want to foreground the Microsoft Ease of Access Accessibility tools. There are simple versions of all of these tools built in, as well as a close captioning feature for videos – although it only works on certain ones. You could put the Ease of Access suite on all public computers so that everyone will have something – even if you can’t afford JAWS and ZoomText for all computers.
  • Here is a link to what we use:
  • You might want to check out the screen reader NVDA – it’s free:
  • you can find contact info for your state’s library for the blind via NLS’ Find a Library feature: is also an NLS page for Assistive Technology:


    I’m not familiar with the term “seeing repaired” but I may have to use that one! As a blind librarian I can recommend several pieces of software, from  screen readers to screen magnifiers and optical character recognition scanners. Itt will depend on your budget, of course.


    For screen reading software, NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) is an open source and free product that is very good, and WindowEyes is now partnered with Microsoft and available for free with any MS Office license. The Cadillac of screen readers is Jaws for Windows ( and ZoomText by AI Squared, now distributed by VFO Group that owns Freedom Scientific as well,  is the Cadillac of screen magnifiers. OCR scanning software  such as Open Book by FS and Kurzweil1000 that works with flatbed scanners is helpful but also pricey, whereas the KNFB Reader app for iOS is great at around $100 and KNFB is being developed as a Windows application ( .

    Hope this helps a little.